The end. And the beginning

I know I said I was going to give away five red ball gowns as part of the #travelingreddress project, but I am a tremendous liar who can’t be trusted. That’s why instead today I’ll be mailing out nine red ball dresses to women around the world. The tenth will be just as beautiful, but will be smaller and hopefully a bit more magical, as it will be going to Alice:

Amazing pictures already pouring in from women across the globe in their red dresses. In fact, some have improvised using just a few yards of material to make amazing portraits. Ball gowns are flying across the country and photographers are furiously offering free sessions, and honestly I may have cried a little.

A few minutes ago I got an email telling me that I’m a final nominee for a Health Activist Award. I’m not sure if it’s for my work with rheumatoid arthritis or with mental illness but it seemed to require some weekly chats or such and I immediately felt both proud and panicked and quickly emailed them:

I’m not sure if i was chosen because of my rheumatoid arthritis or my mental illness issues but the latter sort of keeps me from doing web chats or phone calls or any of that. My anxiety is just too strong right now for me to take on anything else. But I’m so honored. If you’d rather give it to someone less crazy than me though I totally understand. I just have to take care of myself a bit more and that means saying no when I want to say yes. I hope you understand.

After I sent that out I expected to feel bad, like a failure for not being the activist others might see me as, but instead I felt…comforted. Because I’m finally learning that I have to be my own activist as well and take care of myself.  And sometimes that means saying “no” when every fiber of your body says “yes”.

Sometimes a no is a yes.

Sometimes a battle is the triumph.

Sometimes a dress is a hope.

PS. Tomorrow I’ll be back in my usual old irreverent, biting satire as usual. The drugs should kick in any minute.  Promise.

UPDATED:  I won, in spite of myself.  Literally, and figuratively.  How perfectly bewildering.


Comment of the day: When you said “Ball gowns are flying across the country”, the first thing I thought of was looking up in the sky and seeing scores of victorian dresses flying through the air. And a small child, who is walking down the street with her mother would look up at the sky and ask: Mommy, what are those things? And the mother would smile, look down and say to her child: That’s hope. ~ Plaidfox

332 thoughts on “The end. And the beginning

Read comments below or add one.

  1. I’m just so in love with the travelling red dress. I’ve loved seeing pictures of women wearing their dresses and I hope that they all feel beautiful while wearing it! What an awesome project!
    {And yay for saying no when you know that it is the best thing for you, so many women have a hard time saying no}

  2. Wow.
    That may be the single most difficult and most valuable lesson you could teach. Thank you.

  3. learning to say no is such a HUGE accomplishment! You should be proud. it took me many years and some intense anxiety flare ups to learn it, and continuing practice makes it easier. Well done.

  4. I absolutely love that you are sending a dress to Alice. I can’t imagine anyone more deserving of feeling happy, magical, and special in a red dress.

  5. Congratulations on your “no”! It is most certainly tougher than many people think, and having the strength to say no is a great achievement.

  6. You are so amazing and beautiful and make the world a FURIOUSLY HAPPIER and better place! The hope that you inspire in so many is breathtaking and awesome and makes me cry a little (ok a lot), too.

  7. It’s hard to say no when you want to say yes. But everybody all around is better off when you say no if you have to. You gotta do what you gotta do.

  8. Sometimes being true to yourself and showing the world it’s okay to say no, makes it easier for all of us to do the same. 🙂

  9. Sadly, the video is not available from Germany. Would you mind to give a quick account of Alice`s story?

    (She’s a seven year old girl struggling with depression and pediatric bipolar disorder. ~ Jenny)

  10. Sometimes a battle is a triumph.

    I couldn’t agree more.

    Our battles defeat us.

    But our battles have brought us here, together.

  11. I have been following you for about a month now since discovering Beyonce, the giant metal chicken on Pinterest. It has been a roller coaster of a month for me…down right emotionally draining on some days. But reading about the traveling red dress…it gives me hope like nothing else. I know in due time that I WILL be a-okay. And no one will ever bring me down again. SO, I’m off to find my own red dress and rock the hell out of it and then pass it on so that someone else will know that things are going to be a-okay for them, too.

    You are awesome.

  12. Just when I thought I had no more room in my heart to love you any more, you go and do something like this. It pushed out the love I felt for my mother. I am now apathetic towards my own mother.

    I hope you’re happy! 😉

  13. Thanks for sending a dress to that little Girl. I was dx’d with BiPolar my Junior year of College, about 7 years ago (and that’s the first time I’ve admitted that in a public forum like this) and while I’m better today than I’ve ever been, I can’t imagine a child having to live like this. Then again, maybe as a child, I did – that would explain a lot.

    I’m glad she gets a red dress. I’m glad she has a therapy dog. I’m glad she has a diagnosis and the help she needs.

    You ARE an activist. Thank you for being so wonderful & inspirational!

    (My red dress is my brand-new pair of expensive running shoes, which I am going to use, because I know that exercise lets me feel like myself.)

  14. Also? I took part of your blog and quoted it on my FB page (even tagged your Bloggess FB page so you got credit!). It was just too good not to share with my friends.

  15. Alice’s story made me cry, no child should have to suffer like that, and I can feel for the mother, such a beautiful child, carry far more pain than a child should.
    Jenny, thank you for taking care of yourself, we need you. You helped me be strong enough to help a family member when no one else could or would see there was more than a minor issue. Indirectly because of you, he’s now on treatment and feeling more able to cope. You taught me that sometimes it is ok to tell someone you love that they are mentally ill and help them find the help they need. Also – you make me laugh. YOU make me furiously happy.

  16. dammit, jenny, you just made me cry. And not just a little bit. I’m pretty sure that if I had been sat down in front of a psychiatrist as a child I would have been diagnosed as clinically depressed before I even reached kindergarten, so watching the video about Alice and realizing what you are doing for her IS JUST GONNA MAKE ME CRY AGAIN! I’m all sloppy and sappy and totally not snarky so I’m just gonna go now. I shall return when I don’t look like I just left the movie theater after having watched Titanic for the first time.

  17. I just wish I could hug you and maybe cry a little. Then laugh at how stupid crying makes me look, all blotchy and red-faced. Then we could listen to Led Zeppelin and go curio shopping.

  18. What an incredible video. I hope Alice has a TON of fun in her red dress. I may be wiping tears as I type this.

  19. I’m so glad there are people like you in the world, Jenny. It totally restores my faith in humanity. Mostly. People are still assholes. Just not you.

  20. When you said “Ball gowns are flying across the country”, the first thing I thought of was looking up in the sky and seeing scores of victorian dresses flying through the air. And a small child, who is walking down the street with her mother would look up at the sky and ask: Mommy, what are those things? And the mother would smile, look down and say to her child: That’s hope.

    You know, the day dream was originally comical, but as I wrote it, it became more heartfelt. Huh. Must be going soft in my old age.

    The end.

  21. What you fail to notice is that you already are an activist. You have brought mental health issues out of the dark and into the light for so many, helped them realize they are not alone in the dark. I have said it before you are my new hero.

  22. It makes me happy to see how excited everyone is about the Traveling Red Dresses. To have gotten 10 together is amazing!

    And kudos to you for being able to say no for your own health. We’re all so trained to try to say yes… I know I have a hard time.

  23. How do you do that, make us feel sad and happy at the same time? Alice will love her red dress and maybe a red bandanna for her dog too…

  24. You earned that win Jenny my dear.

    Very few people advocate for those of us who suffers differing levels of anxiety, depression, OCD, bi-polar, etc, let alone take the ribbon symbol and claim silver as the color and create buttons that say never give up.

    Through decades of depression the thought of ‘never give up’ is probably the only reason I’m still alive. My therapist at the time brilliantly told me that as stubborn as I am, why would I let depression win. An excellent use of reverse psychology.

  25. It’s all just too damn beautiful. All of it. And you are the most fitting and deserving person for that award, don’t dare doubt that for a moment. Whether it’s for RA or offkilterintheheadness LIKE I PROMISE YOU WE ALL ARE TO SOME DEGREE (seriously, this lady in my office has on socks w/open toe shoes. See? Offkilterintheheadness.), you were the best person to win it. You were. You are.

  26. As someone who suffers from anxiety & depression, I realize what I’m about to say might accidentally freak you out. But I have to tell you: You are an inspiration every day of the year. Whether you’re writing about travelling dresses or clown porn, you are just plain simply awesome. Congratulations on the nomination, and on having the strength to say “No.”

  27. The title of your post…isn’t that something that Ogra says in the Dark Crystal? Congratulations!!!

  28. You go!

    A funny to make your day (from my blog):
    Curly (who’s supposed to be cleaning up bathrooms): Mom, there’s cat poop on the carpet in front of your bedroom door.
    Me: What!?! What are you talking about?
    Curly: Yeah, there’s a steaming pile of poop!
    Me: Then clean it up.
    Curly: That’s not my job!
    Me: Clean it up.
    Curly: That’s Moe’s job! I don’t clean up poop!


    Curly: Oh wait, that’s not cat poop, that’s panty hose.

  29. Just living through things and being open enough to write about it makes you a fantastic example and a great activist. Living well is the best revenge has a whole better meaning when thought of in reference to chronic diseases!

  30. I don’t have anything clever to say, I can barely breathe from trying not to cry at the video. Just want to say you are amazing for bringing so much light to people’s lives.

  31. I just finished a book about mental illness, and the line that stood out the most to me was where the author’s mother told him “It’s ok to ask for help when your feelings are broken”. I had not clue that children could suffer from such a grown up disease like bipolar disorder, but I hope the traveling red dress will help to heal Alice’s broken feelings.

    Thank you for always being an inspiration.

  32. So proud of you for taking care of you. Your writing sustains many of us. Thank you.

  33. Alice’s video made me tear up 🙁

    I’m excited that I will be getting a traveling red dress from the FB group and a photographer friend has offered to take pictures when I get it.

  34. Dearest Jenny. First of all I want to say that I thank jeebus that you dont get why you’re amazing/wonderful/powerful/motivational/etc because the day you get it is the day the world would blow apart. That or you’d become Loving Dictator of Fun and Furious Happiness for the Universe (actually that doesnt sound so bad). Now then: I have been stuggling with Clinical Depression for the last 3 years and Depression for the last 20 years. I can talk about it openly now because I have no more shame about it. I have no more shame about it because of you. YOU, by being exactly who you are, are a catalyst, a muse, a mentor, a guardian, an advocat, a voice for so many of us. You dont have to do or be anything you arent to be all those things to us. I (cant speak for others here) dont see you way up high on a pedastool (for pete’s sake …sp??) but rather right here, standing next to me. If you cant do something, we get it. If you cant give more, we get that too. You embody the humour and frustration, the pain and the hope that each of us carries out here in the “real” world and by telling your story you give wings to our stories. You deserve every kudo, award, and big, flashy acknowledgement you may get for the work that you do here and IRL but I hope you feel the love and grateful, virtual (and real) hugs that we send to you every day.

  35. you can’t be irreverent all the time, sometimes you get to be semi-serious. I also pictured red dresses flying around like the office memos in Harry Potter

  36. I don’t know why, but your Red Dress project makes me think of a song from the Broadway show “Wicked” – Defying Gravity. Check out the lyrics. It’s all about how Elpheba (the “Wicked Witch of the West”) wants to follow her own path, and how she won’t allow anyone to bring her down. That is what these stories remind me of. Awesome.

  37. Jenny, I really believe that you are one of those inspirational people that I will think about and look up to for many years to come. You’ve been told this many time, and I truly hope that you believe it wholeheartedly, you’re amazing. You’ve made me smile and laugh and believe in humanity again. From finding and getting help when I needed it most to participating in the traveling red dress (soon), the impact (yet another) person of the internet has made on my life is amazing.

  38. Some times, I jsut wish I could spend a day with you. Battling the same things you are, with a mum who loves me but says “Just cheer up!” or “snap out of it” on a regular basis, it’d be nice to be around someone as insane & adorable as me. But then I remember who we are & remember it would be a day of awkward silence & weird anxiety & then, I like you even more.

    Thank you. 🙂

  39. You have to be careful when you do a little something for yourself. Sometimes it turns into something big for everybody else. You’ve done that. You have already done more for other people this year than most do in their lifetimes. So if you need to say no to something, that is TOTALLY OK. Healthy in fact.

    And Alice,… oh my goodness do I want to just wrap my arms around that girl and hug her. So glad her mother can see past the pain and confusion to the beautiful girl inside. They are both so lucky to have each other.

  40. The most important lesson I ever learned was how to say “no” and take some time for myself– congrats on learning how good it can feel sometimes and that it doesn’t mean you aren’t still the most selfless amazing woman around 🙂

    Also, I definitely thought of red dresses flying through the air. It was kiiiiiiinda awesome to think about!

  41. Hope across the sky……amazing response.
    and that Alice gets a special dress….I can’t begin to express my joy.
    You are an amazing soul and you are changing peoples lives.
    With every post. With every tear. With every giggle.
    With every red dress that brings someone joy….even for just a moment of their life

  42. I totally get trying to explain to people why you can’t meet for coffee or talk on the phone. It’s so hard to make people understand without going into the whole embarrassing story. Congrats on the well-deserved award.

  43. You deserve that award more than anyone on this for bringing to the light that mental illness is not just having a rough day, its a fight every day to stay alive. Hell, I want to send you an award for being my reminder that while its a struggle its worth it being alive and that I deserve to be furiously happy.
    I cried as I watched that video not just in tears of sadness for that poor girl but also out of happiness that she has a mom who is fighting for her. My own mother doesnt understand my diagnosis at all and still tells me that going to church and smiling will solve this shit (its been 15 years since my first episode, its not going away). Does her mom have a red dress or equivalent that we can send for just being awesome?

  44. I have a couple of good girlfriends and an idea. If we could somehow all manage a red dress at once for a group photo shoot. We have LOADS of photographer hubbies/buddies. We’re in Memphis and I’d love for us to head around to some cool spots for the shots. If I ever get it together (and talk everyone into it) I’ll send pics.
    You are SO inspiring – and yes, sometimes I have to cry a little…like a minute ago when I read about your smallest dress for such a special little girl. ???

  45. See, and when I saw the words “ball gowns floating across the sky”, I just thought of balls flying across the sky. This does not make me a bad person…I mean they weren’t red -or blue- balls after all.

  46. Jenny, Thank you for giving us a glimpse into your life and for sharing Alice’s story. Sometimes it feels like we’re the only ones. My 7 year old son was born with bipolar disorder (among other things) and some days or weeks life is so…heavy. I keep writing and re-writing this, but I just can’t express how much your sense of humor and your willingness to share the good and the not so good in your life inspires me, without sounding like a big ol sap. Which I’m not, I swear. So I’ll just say thank you. Really, thank you. I’m so happy you are taking care of yourself.

  47. Jenny,

    I have biploar disorder, too, though mine is a fairly mild case. I have never come out and said it out loud to anyone until I recently started reading your blog. Now, my diagnosis is in my about me page. You are an inspiration to us all! As an aspiring photographer, guess what my next photo shoot will be? That’s right. I’m off to buy a red dress, and I have just the person in mind. Thank you!


  48. Damn you in all the best ways…..yet again here i sit with a smile on my face and tears in my eyes over one of your post. You are doing wonderful things for many many people. and bringing information and hope to many people. THANK YOU for all you do!!!!

  49. I’m not sure how many more ways I can say that you are awesome, but you are. Incredible. Wonderful. The best kind of fucked up.

    The video of Alice made me get teary. My 7 year old is in the process of being diagnosed with some sort of mental illness – her doctors aren’t sure what’s wrong yet – and it’s terrifying, for her and for me, especially because I beat myself up daily over the fact that I may have passed along my screwed up brain to her.

  50. The “I am totally overrated” tag totally and utterly does not apply to this post. You are great. And best of all, you help others allow themselves to be great, despite whatever troubles we may have in the rest of the world, or how wacky we may seem in others eyes. You are amazing. Thank you.

  51. Goosebumps. Tears. Sadness. Happiness. Hope. I’ve run the gamut of feelings just by reading this entry and watching the video…you never cease to amaze me. You are your best kept secret!

  52. Sobbing over the video of Alice. I am the mother of a child with disabilities that most of the world can’t see. They meet a sweet and pleasant child & have no idea of the struggles that happen behind the scenes. Today, I had to go to battle for my girl. Your decision to to send Alice the red dress came as a sign of comfort and peace today. Thank you Jenny!!
    I happened to have the good fortune to win a staycation at a local hotel. I have declared to my girlfriends we are taking over the hotel room – with red dresses. We are having a red dress party. A night to feel fabulous together.

  53. I really hope you know how amazing and inspiring you are. Really. And if you don’t, then please start to believe it.

  54. Thank you, Jenny. Just had a major, frustrated, bewildering fight with my husband about why I’m so damaged and why he can’t understand my inability to get out of bed…you make me feel SO not alone. Why does life have to hurt like this?

  55. You never cease to amaze me. That video about Alice was a great reminder that kids really do need to be listened to. I have fought for the last 7 years to get my son help. My ex-wife fought me the entire time because in her words, him needing help would be a reflection on her mothering skills. Now that he’s 17 and able to just say no, it’s almost too late. I can only let him know he’s loved and that I’ll always be there for him.
    And Plaidfox’s comments made me smile, what an awesome response. Just beautiful.

  56. Red ballgowns flying through the air while photographers scream on the ground below, “Let me take your picture in this dress and make you feel spectacular!” That’s all I can see in my head right now.

    I said it already but you are so inspiring to me. To deal with what I deal with, plus more, and still help others is amazing. To help yourself? Astounding. Sometimes that’s the hardest thing to do.

  57. Being chronially ill in several ways myself, having a bipolar life partner and a daughter with OCD it is SO refreshing and inspiring to read your blog! I love it LOADS! I’m still thinking about what that red dress is for me, and I think maybe it’s about learning how to be alone. As in all by myself, alone, walking somewher alone or just… being at home not doing anything. I’d like to wear a red dress even sitting at home staring out the window. And learn to deal with the discomfort of my own company? Maybe? Maybe if I were home alone in a red dress I’d laugh out loud, really happy? Keep it up. I’m reading as much as I can of all the other inspiring comments here. Thanks to you too, this is getting huge!!

  58. “Because I’m finally learning that I have to be my own activist as well and take care of myself. And sometimes that means saying “no” when every fiber of your body says “yes”.” – YEP. Still trying to learn this. Trying, trying and trying some more. I wish being an adult were easier.

  59. You are extremely perfect just as you are and your blog posts keep me going 🙂 Thank you!!! The Traveling Red Dress project just… awesome.

  60. I finally figured out what my “red dress” is.

    I want a tiara. Not a carboard one, a “real” tiara.

    I have nowhere to wear a tiara. It is a totally frivolous purchase and something I would never buy for myself. But for 20+ years, if you asked me “what do you want for your birthday, christmas, etc” I would have told you “I want a tiara” and I’ve never gotten one. I guess everyone always figured I was kidding. I’m not.

  61. This project of yours inspired me to lend several hundred dollars to a semi-stranger. (We’re both members of the same internet site.) The only stipulation is that he pay me back (no timeline, as soon as he can) and that he do the same for two others if he has the chance. (I actually care more that he passes on doing such a favor than he pays me back.)

    It cut into my non-essentials budget, but I felt that the universe wanted me to do this.

    Thank you for giving me the inspiration to help someone out of a hard time.

  62. Alice ….is just like My daughter. She is 17 now… but has been diagnosed as Bipolar since she was a little thing too. So many odd things she did as a toddler. Nobody understands. Nobody STILL understands. She is 17 now. I cannot bear that little Alice may have to endure all the traumas we have, on our journey trying to find MY Emma girl. Oh I want to talk to this mom!!!!!

  63. I wish I could share your red dress with a lost friend. She needed to believe she was worth celebration but couldn’t believe that truth. When she lost hope, we lost her. Sometimes our minds are our worst enemies. Thanks for sharing hope with the world.

  64. This is too sweet! I just tried on a red dress a few days ago, but didn’t buy it. Now I’m going back for it! Thanks for being such an inspiration

  65. “The drugs should kick in any minute.” is gong to be my new go to phrase. You are pretty amazing, especially in the way you embrace a little crazy.

  66. Congratulations & thank you so much for the reminder that there is hope!

  67. Jenny, you put me over the edge with Alice’s video and the music which is my favorite. (go find the same song on Youtube song by the Seniors Group Young at Heart) You must watch it, though have tissues handy. It’s beautiful. Anything else I can do for Alice? Sigh, now I’m all weepy and shit. Laurie F.

  68. I, like many others, began following you after reading the ridiculous chicken post and I’ve fallen in love with your humor and heart. Thank you.

  69. Good for you, for so many reasons, including that you appreciate your own accomplishment. Also? You are changing so much in the world for the better, dress by dress.

  70. Oh. My. God.

    No, really.

    I sit here beating myself up over having an hour long nap in the middle of the day because, well, dammit… Fibromyalgia is a hateful bitch and I needed it. Now I’m crying because you have helped make it okay that sometimes I can’t fight through it, and sometimes, I need a nap.

    I love you.

  71. Dammit. I knew I shouldn’t click on that video. But I did. All the kleenex was gone already because everyone here is fighting a cold, so I’m using the kids blankets.

    I have 2 best friends that I am trying to convince to buy red dresses, or fancy dresses even, and go have a photo shoot with me on the beach. We’ve been best friends for 25 years and are all turning 39 this year. We each have our issues, 2 of us with anxiety disorder and depression, 2 with children with it. As someone who’s always relied on them to get me through my life (out the door and out of my own head), I really want to do this with them. However, I’m having a hard time convincing them it’s not about losing wieght to look perfect, or looking perfect at all. *sigh* I am still hopeful. If I do manage to convince (I say them, but really it’s one in particular) her, I will be sure to share.

    Even if we don’t, I think it’s awesome that one good thing you did for yourself has turned into such a wonderful event for so many.

  72. Unfortunately they won’t let us watch the vid in Germany, but that comment may or may not have made me cry a little 🙂

  73. Please, please take care of yourself. You matter to so many people.

    Thank you for doing what you do, sister!

  74. Oh my. Alice’s video has me in tears; I didn’t even know children that young could have bipolar disorder. Phew. Thanks, as usual, for sharing. You continue to be the perfect kind of inspiration – one who makes me laugh and smile while delivering the messages. 🙂

  75. Thank you for what you’ve inspired so many to do. Someone had mentioned sending a “dress” for Alice’s dog. If you could get me her information, I would’ve happy to send one.

  76. I was watching the video and proud that I wasn’t in tears, until….

    the dog.

    I’m a disabled veteran with PTSD (served in Bosnia, Saudi, and Somalia). After 19 years of daily mental anguish, I received the best gift ever in October 2011… a service dog.

    It was fate. I already had a dog named Rosco. I named him after my favorite Dukes of Hazard character. He’s a little crazy. Ok, a lot crazy. When I arrived at the training facility, they introduced me to my dog: “Kerri, this is Daisy Duke.” See? Fate. Daisy Duke has made an incredible difference in my life in just a few months.

    Alice’s story is heartbreaking, but certainly not the end of her life. She has an obviously loving mother, and now a great companion to help her through life. I’m rooting for you all the way Alice.

    And thank you, Dearest Bloggess, for bringing this story to light, and also for sharing the red dress.

  77. You are amazing and inspiring, Jenny. I think you were nominated for the Health Activist award because of this blog – you’ve helped so many people by revealing your own struggles. Thank you for being exactly who you are.

  78. I don’t think I’m allowed to read your posts for awhile. Your red dress stories have kept me in tears for the last two days. Yesterday when it happened my fella looked up and saw me crying, so he came over and read the screen over my shoulder.
    “….but, but….it’s about optimism and hope, right?” he asked perplexedly.
    “Yes.” Sobbed me.
    “Ok, then….” Shrugged he.

  79. I was recently diagnosed with Palindromic Rheumatoid Arthritis (after suffering without knowing why for about 18 years, starting at age 12) and then I randomly found your blog. I think it was fate. You inspire me daily. I often feel alone with my sickness, because people don’t often “get” the amount of pain involved. I love to come here and see you doing such awesome & fantastic things.

  80. The thing that really beats anxiety is to not let it keep you from doing things that you want to do. If you want to do the videos … then do the videos ! The only way to shut up the voices telling you that your anxiety is too bad to do things is to do them anyway. I used to stay home and avoid situations even though I really wanted to go … until a great friend of mine told me to call it “anxiety practice”. It works!

  81. This is so beautiful and so inspiring. Women everywhere deserve a red dress. I am so glad my friend shared the “And That’s Why You Choose Your Battles” blog with me so that I could find you and this. Jenny, you’ve done so much for people everywhere, I don’t think you even know. A lot of us just sit and read the other comments wishing we could be as clever. Maybe we can’t, but we can be sincere. So I sincerely thank you for your blog. It makes my day so much brighter to know there are people out there like me. Not perfect. But wonderful just the same.

  82. May I just say you rock? You’re so wicked smart it scares me. I like to think we would’ve been friends in jr high and made school fun.

  83. Dear Bloggess, I don’t know who else did it… but I will step forward and admit that I (at Eustice’s urging) nominated you for that award. You have made your challenges part of your everyday life and you are brave and share them with all of us and have integrated them into your life in such a way that they have contributed your success. THAT is a very special talent. One that I strive to emulate.

    Also… because of you I acquired my own “red dress” (which is not red but was made just for me) to help me get through a very emotionally challenging experience. I am now working with a photographer. I hope to have a beautiful picture that I can hang up to remind myself, everyday, of all that is inside of me. Thank you for telling me you are really my friend when I suggested you were my “pretend friend and neighbor”.

  84. It is hard to say no, and then when you learn to say no, it’s hard to remember to say yes sometimes. I learned to say no a while back… it is to the point where my first reaction, my knee jerk, is to say, “No, I can’t do that.” Often I have to back track with my family and friends when I’ve let that auto pilot response slip out… So, when you learn to say no, check in with yourself every now and again to make sure you are not saying it on auto pilot.

    Completely unrelated, you make me so happy, and sad at the same time… *sigh* I need to find myself a red dress… yeah…

  85. Bravo for learning how to say “no” and not going back on that, even when you wanted to. The smallest word in the world is big enough to choke you sometimes. I hope Alice loves her dress and smiles like there’s no tomorrow (thanks so much for sharing that AND making me cry). You do know you totally rock, right?

    @plaidfox — awesome comment.

    Fingers crossed a red dress shows up in my town soon.

  86. Oh my god. I just watched that video and started SOBBING not even one minute in to it. This was me as a child. Even though my mother was a psychiatrist, no one had any idea what to do with me(because it was the 80s and small children did not have bipolar disorder in the 80s). It’s now my five year old son, and it breaks me heart in to a billion tiny pieces. I’m not even remotely fixed, I’m so afraid for him.

  87. You’re awesome! And you’re almost-kinda-local to me. I am also on the brain drugs, maybe we should hang out some time? If that’s amenable, and you have time, and all that. I promise I’m not some kinda crazy stalker or anything.

    Anyway, MY red dress is in the form of a bunch of blue potatoes and purple carrots, and I’m gonna go downstairs with my shovel and make a new garden bed for them right now! It’s gonna be ALL CRAZYVEGGIES ALL THE TIME!

  88. Thank you for having the courage that most of us will never have. You bear your soul to the world. You make so many people laugh and at the same time make them take a hard look at their life. You are an inspiration to many. My sister is a new blogger and I know suffers from some of the same things you do even though she will never admit it. I have attached her blog if you have time it would mean so much to her for you to read it. If you have a fund for your red dresses, I would love to contribute. I dont know if anyone here in Nebraska has need of one if so please let me know.

    P.S. My husband read one of your blogs I left up from your Sexis. It was the thanks giving one where the guy keeps saying “your welcome”. Thanks for that. Everything now has a “your welcome”. 🙂

  89. Even without web chatting or making phone calls, you have been an advocate by being a person that has brought depression into mainstream conversation. For those of us who suffer from depression or other mental health issues, we yearn for the time when “depression” isn’t whispered and going to counseling isn’t shameful and taking medication isn’t a secret.

  90. A wonderful Waldorf teacher once told me “Say ‘no’ as a creative act.” It’s so true….with every ‘no’ you’re creating space in your life for the next yes.

  91. It is a sign of how far you have com that you realize that no is what you have to do to take care of yourslef. Please teach me.

  92. You are amazing! Sometimes this blog makes me laugh and sometimes it makes me cry. Either way it is a good thing. I have just a few months ago given up trying to “fix” my child. I hope that doesn’t sound wrong but he has some learning difficulties. I try to “help” him with his homework and he has an IEP and I talk to his teacher’s constantly. He keeps telling me to let things go. He feels it’s ok to not learn how to spell some words or understand some concepts. He is 12. I have had him in therapy twice for a few months each. Both times I felt like the professionals were idiots and “not fixing” things. I kept thinking how come I can’t magically make this work for him and make things better. Blah blah blah. Anyway, I have finally come to accept he is right. It is okay for him not to know how to spell some words and understand some things. Life will go on for all of us. I am convinced he has something along the lines of Aspberger’s but I don’t think I’ll ever figure that out. Medically speaking it is just too much craziness to find the right therapist/diagnosis who works with the insurance and school and all. Oh well, give a hug to Alice for me and tell her I understand.

  93. I have a red and black dress I got from a friend for a Christmas party.. I could definitely donate it to this cause, I’m a size 12 and she’s a 16 and it fit it us both. Anyone want it?

  94. Jenny, sometimes just getting out of the bed in the morning is winning. I love the traveling red dress project and am still trying to get up the nerve to wear one of them, so you are already ahead of me. Your blogs make me laugh and make me cry – sometimes at the same time, but my husband (probably like Victor) is used to that by now. Take care of yourself and keep on winning!

  95. Jenny, you are an inspiration and a hero to so many people who are going through their own battles and gain strength in knowing that you are battling too and trying to make it easier on all of us.

  96. I find it very interesting that (at least lately) when you’ve made a more serious/moving/awesome post, you make a comment assuring your readers that you’ll soon return to humor and satire. I can’t speak for others, but as for me, I need no assurance that your posts will be one way or the other, because they are all good. Don’t worry – you don’t have to be all spectacularly funny all the time. We love you just the same. Thanks for being you – ALL SIDES OF YOU.

  97. Yep broke out the ugly cry watching the video. What a special little girl and how awesome that she is getting a red dress to show how truly special SHE is.

  98. You’re a huge hero of mine, but the best part is, I read posts like this and I realize all over again that you are a real person. That makes you even better.

  99. Wow, I have just recently started reading your blog, and Mrs. Birdman was onto something. Now I have to find out what this red dress thing is all about, and why that little girl is getting one. Thanks for giving me a bit of sleuthing to do.

  100. I love the comment of the day, along with your post of course. I was thinking similarly, although not quite so eloquent. But then I was distracted by my happiness for you in that you are learning to advocate for yourself. Learning to say no has been a challenge for me, and I hope to do well with it one day. The red dress pictures are absolutely amazing and I have wished myself a bit. But it inspires me to see so many women reaching out to help and bless each other, it’s such a better reflection of womanhood than looking at the cattiness that gets promoted elsewhere.

  101. As usual, you inspire me. I have shared your blog with many friends, and we have laughed and cried reading it. I simply adore you, and all you do for awareness and empowerment. Thank you!

  102. With tears streaming down my face as I sit in the midst of my own bottoming out, my heart goes out to Alice and her family. Her mom is AWESOME. I cannot imagine watching my own children go through this. I cannot imagine how hard it would be as a child to go through this. It is difficult enough as an adult who can sort of understand and sort of cope… You really get me feeling… every time I visit. Whether it’s feel up or feel down or something else… I always FEEL. Thank you for being who you are and doing what you do.

  103. I’m not sure if I should leave a comment here or contact you some other way.

    I don’t need a red dress. Actually, I bought myself a couple of them about a year ago when I started down a new path in my life. A new start, a resuscitation of my soul. The red dress does hold magic.

    I am writing because I sew. For reals. That’s what I do for a living.

    At some point, as the dresses travel around, things will happen. Stuff will fall off, or get stepped on. Repairs will be needed. I can do that. I’m pretty centrally located. I’m fast. And I want to help. I don’t need a dress, but everyone should have one, and I want to help in the best way I know how.

    Please let me know if you can use me, and what I need to do.

  104. I was fine until about a minute into the video. and then I stared to cry. and then I lost my contact. and then the dog came over to see why I was upset. or to eat my contact. damn it.

  105. Love this. Congratulations on your recognition, you definitely deserve it. Also, I’m crying buckets over here after watching the video of Alice. My heart hurts for her, and I sincerely hope a miniature red dress can brighten her day.

  106. Stop trying to make me cry!!!! Seriously, you rock. Hard. And I mean that in a totally non-sexual but loving way.

  107. I’m hugging my laptop because it’s the closest I can get to giving you, Alice, and Alice’s Mom a big hug.

  108. I had a serious comment to make and then was distracted by a link above me about Clown Porn. It proves I have a twisted imagination because now I have this vision of clown porn actresses surrounded by red dresses that have been thrown on the floor.

    Well, the good news is that you helped another person (me) smile today and that is worth something.

  109. Humbled, and hopeful – humbled by your grace and humor in the face of so much, and hopeful that your illumination of those needing a “red dress” will continue to bloom. xo

  110. Dammit, Jenny, stop making me cry this week.
    In a good way. But still. I’m already so damn congested.

    I, too, pictured ball gowns flying across the sky. And you did this. Come to NJ so I can pat you on the back, woman. You can hide in my closet afterwards, if it would help.

  111. Jenny, you are a lovely soul and an inspiring funny brilliant beautiful woman who is cracked in all the right places. REALLY. You are.

    What you share here changes lives. That is no small thing.

  112. I was sniffly all the way through, then I about broke down and got snotty when I hit the comment at the end.

    Can’t add anything new, just- your posts are always so amazing and so human and real and heartfelt that they’re pretty much universally relatable, I have to imagine. Especially considering how many people are “screwed up” and think it has to be secret.

    As has already been said- the funny and snarky ones and the serious ones are all equally important, ’cause we all need to laugh and we all need to remember sometimes it’s ok to cry.

    And also, you help a lot of people in a lot of ways which is just amazing and beautiful and even though most of us never have met (or will meet) you, not the least reason for which being that unsurprisingly for a group of people on the internet, you’re not the only one with social anxiety issues, we still all feel pretty strongly that you’re an amazing beautiful person, a bright shining light that reminds us that the darkness is finite, and we all feel a little better for having “met” you.

    (ok and also I maaay be a little tipsy and PMSy, but it’s still all true.)

  113. Crying for all the Alices. And so grateful there are yous in the world to send them red dresses. I’m a social worker. I’ve seen some Alices. I haven’t seen enough yous, though. Or enough red dresses. Sometimes i forget that there is hope, when all I see is Alice after Alice and no “red dresses”. Thank you for the reminder. And for your beauty. You humble me and give me hope.

  114. i always want to say something, to post something meaningful that somehow would convey just how much your writing has meant to me especially these last few months. the welcome relief of knowing and hearing that others hurt, the permission to laugh like a loon in the middle of such hurt, all of it.

    this red dress post and alice tug at my heartstrings in so many ways. i hadn’t read here in a while, and back tracked to the red dress post.

    while it’s not a red dress, make a wish is taking our little girl on a trip we’d only dreamed of and had hoped we’d have time to do. her time is running out, and we are racing to catch every minute we can.

    may your red dress inspire more to grab the moment.

    thank you.

  115. I think you have just changed my life. I have never heard of you before but I found your blog today through YoungHouseLove and I read for hours. You give me hope that one day I can find balance and maybe fix myself. I have struggled with depression and self-injury since I was 9, I’m now 31. You have given me hope that my marriage can work and I can raise a child because today I was terrified until I found you. Thank you for your honest blogging.

  116. Ya know, every time I come over here I never know whether I’m going to pee my pants from laughing or cry my heart out; but every time I leave this site – I love you just a little bit more.

    You are a beautiful person, Jenny. And I want you to know that all your efforts to make people see the hilarity or the humanity are duly noted; and not just by me. You are truly making a difference in this world. You are touching so many people – and trying to make their lives just a little bit better…..and really? Shouldn’t we all be doing that? And if we did, what a better place this world we would live in would be.

  117. I wish I could make a difference in some way. I am so wrapped up in my own black hole of depression I don’t know if even a red dress would help. Will have to try to think of some way to help others who are suffering, even though I can’t seem to help myself.

  118. YOU are changing the way we think…we are becoming a lot less up-tight, a lot more sarcastic, and a lot more compassionate! We are arranging a Sisters’ prom here in good ole Tennessee. Donating all the dresses at the end of the night! No penis’ allowed. We are have butter mints, crepe paper, prom pictures and a DJ. All because you started something…? BTW – I am not 16 …I am 41! Can’t wait till March 10th…will share pictures!

  119. The video… wow. My son was born back in the early 80’s and he had emotional issues that therapists and physicians all blamed on his level of intelligence and boredom. It didn’t matter that there was a family history of depression, that “wasn’t his problem”. Long story short- we lost him 2 years ago to a drug overdose.
    Thank you for posting the video. There is so much that can be done now for children who have emotional problems. I wish, oh I wish things had been different.

  120. I commend you for speaking out on behalf of both causes! I have also battled the demon known as mental illness, probably always will. Several years ago my life also changed because of the color red. Mine came in the way of shoes 🙂

    Keep writing, we’ll be reading.

  121. Dammit, you made me cry. (but in a touch my heart kinda way, not the this has been a suck-ass day kinda way). Aaand..the dog just rolled off the footstool (where she was draped across my feet) in the midst of a dream. Touching moment over.

    You are beautiful, inside and out. Gonna find me a red dress too.

  122. I’m a psychologist when I’m not a husband and father. With that hat on, I have to tell you, YOU are doing REALLY GOOD work. For you, and for other. Bless you, you sarcastic little healer.

  123. I had a little cry about Alice. Funny how kindness makes us cry. Thank you Jenny & to Alice’s lovely mother for being so kind to Alice. I also wish her happiness. How can she not find happiness in the face of so much love. Alice’s Mom, You have touched my heart. Jenny you’re an angel.

  124. Like the others, I sat here a bit teary eyed as I watched Alice’s video. Bless her & her family for realizing what was going on so early, and finding help for her.

    You are a winner, no matter the fact you had to “turn it down”. You are an inspiration to many, and whether intentional or not, an advocate for many causes. Thank you for being your amazing self.

  125. Dear Bloggess, I am very torn because I sincerely want you to feel better ( inside and out), yet it seems a crime against humanity to alter perfection.

  126. Fabulous. Love the red dresses, and love the fact that you are being recognized for your anxious activism. I think that if we could all speak (and write) so frankly about mental health, the world would be a better place. Thanks for leading the way, and I hereby promise to also speak and write more frankly about mental health issues and my own zaniness.

  127. So my wedding dress is a lovely shade of burgundy and I have been struggling with sending it out into the world as I still love it and I would like one more chance to wear it before sending it on to another home. This video has made a decision for me – I will over the next couple of months make a red fairy princess dress for a little girl. ( I would do it sooner but I have a couple client projects I need to do first.) I will go through Facebook when I have it ready…little girls need hope too.

  128. The man just came to fix the heater… I had tears dripping off the end of my chin… tears for you… tears for Alice…
    You are truly amazing. You deserve to win every award there is. XO

  129. Sometimes the greatest leaders wish not to lead.

    Crazy or not, you are inspiring. Keep doing good work, and good will always flow around you.

  130. Pfft @ “a failure for not being the activist others might see me as”. Jenny, you by far are one of the biggest activists I have ever seen! Because of you and your blog, 750 homeless children received blankets, books, and stuffed animals this Christmas that they otherwise would not have received. Because of you and your blog, women all over the world are learning to be a little self indulgent from time to time. Because you opened yourself up about your physical and mental illness, you have probably helped another person (maybe even a kid) realize that they aren’t alone or a freak. You may have even saved their life. Because of you, taxidermy’d animals feel loved. You aren’t doing these things to say, “Look at me!!” or “Look what I did” or blah blah. You do it because you have so much love and compassion for other people.

    If that isn’t being an activist– I don’t know what is.

  131. every day you are an inspiration, just by honestly being you. You have given me hope and the will to get off my ass and start being happy. Thank you.

  132. Jenny, I too am a fellow sufferer of anxiety and depression. What you are doing is so incredibly important. I had lunch today with a friend and we discussed how common mental illness is and how poorly many people respond when they find out someone is suffering from some form of it. It needs to be brought out into the open! We need to be honest about the illness. I have chosen to share my diagnosis and not hide it. Yes, I may lose clients and friends, but I have received incredible support and understanding from some of the most unexpected places. Keep on advocating for all of us! And please let me know when your book is released in Canada!

  133. Please don’t take this badly. I’m a RELATIVELY new fan. I don’t remember, maybe six months. I haven’t gone far back enough to see if you do this as much as it appears to me:

    “Tomorrow I’ll be back in my usual old irreverent, biting satire as usual.”

    Many variations of this you have writen after posting something serious, emotionally affecting, etc.
    Dammit, Jenny, your “cred” with us, and I’m certain with nearly all who are drawn here is through the frickin’ roof. You’ve nothing to prove to us, nothing you owe us. There is no particular WAY that you have to BE for us, funny or otherwise.
    We’re all rather confident that what comes out will be AT LEAST interesting, often mind-blowing. And though of course you’re *partially* tongue-in-cheek, it ain’t the meds, Honey. It’s YOU: Your being, your insight, your unique perspective. All flaws come with a divine flip side, but they must be worked. You have done so to such a great degree but seem not to see it, at least not enough.
    It’s even part of what this one was about: “Sometimes a no is a yes.” Saying “no” to a requested obligation, even one that comes with great honor, hell, even one that comes with great riches, is your duty to yourself if it’s beyond your abilities, resources, or energy. And, it’s truly best for the other party as well, even if not readily apparent.
    You have been exhausted of late. Many of us have seen or sensed it (and you’ve basically put it right out there, though usually in asides).

    Not just these awards and so forth, but us: WE are not your obligation; Being “TheBloggess,” writing the actual blog, is NOT your obligation. Shouldn’t it only be your joy, and joyful outlet/work? You are not a commodity. You don’t have to constantly drive yourself within an identity you’ve built, though it has served you well and brought out wonderful things. It will stand, and stand well. You’ve done good works.
    You have proven yourself in many contexts. I will certainly accept whatever entertainment, inspiration, and whatever (that is harder to define) you offer. But I KNOW you don’t owe it to me on some regular basis. I think most of your readers probably feel the same. Any that don’t, that clamor or something, can do a thing called READING FUNNY BOOKS: yours of course, but shockingly, so many others of excellence that existed long before the web, and many others since.
    Maybe I’m being an asshole. It’s not lost on me that you have this in your own self-awareness, as I referenced earlier. But on the thing about feeling obligated to us all, it feels right. When do you ever take an EXTENDED internet break, holding to a decision to not even look back or worry about it AT ALL?

    You ARE funny, in a way that can’t be lost. Your hyperbolic gymnastics remind me of Douglas Adams, but in a way applied to common life. You’re like a version of Erma Bombeck who took permanent, super Douglas Adams pills. I don’t care if anyone gets that.
    TheBloggess is to a degree a character, yes? It’s like you are “Brian” in Monty Python’s *Life of Brian*, on the cross (to the extent it IS like that), with “TheBloggess” portion of you remaining utterly cheerful, singing “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.”
    You don’t have to “sing” for us. It does not hold up the sky. Characters certainly evolve. Whole, undivided people are better at it. You have evolved anyway. We’re incredibly proud of you, with the realization that you don’t NEED us to be. At least I know you don’t need ME to be, but I am anyway.
    All of this has really been to say that though of course we love this blog, I love this blog, there’s no reason in this world it has to be a “show must go on” kind of deal. And it can change, it can evolve ever further, as it has, as it will, without apology, regularity or obligation.

    That I am longwinded is an understatement. This could and should have been boiled down. I can’t seem to hack that right now. I too have illness, plus am in a recliner with a head and neck injury, so I’m doubly medicated even from the usual. This is no excuse, however, for my presumptuousness:
    I know you exclusively through your writings and have no illusion of friendship, though I’ve clearly presumed to write as such. If what I’ve written is over the top, or way off the mark, I deeply apologize. I’ve thought I’ve seen in you what I’ve thought I seen: a trend of crisis.
    And of course you’ve been open about that to a degree anyway, and it’s not rocket science. I just very much want you to take better care of and time for yourself as you need, even if TheBloggess needs regular off-seasons to accomplish it. We would surely wait, and be that much more lustful for your words upon your return. We certainly love you.
    I picture YOU, Jenny Lawson, walking in a flowing red dress, at once flattering and natural. You’re walking a flowered path in the sunlight, then stop and turn to face a pleasing breeze. You breathe in the clean, lightly fragrant floral air. You breathe and think, then smile. You didn’t see or hear him walking up from behind, but accept as Victor gently takes your hand. You don’t even open your eyes.

    P.S. Yes, this big, giant hairy man did also cry.

  134. Jenny,

    Not even really sure what I can say to all of this. I am one of those followers who fell in love with your humor and has now had my heart and mind altered by your honesty. I have never commented, because I have always felt “who am I to participate”. That has basically been my mantra towards life over the last year. I have been dealing with extreme fear and depression due to a huge life change that we made that may be a huge mistake. I have withdrawn from family and friends and dove headfirst into “relationships” with bloggers instead. I may be bipolar, but am too afraid/broke to make the move toward healing myself. But what you are doing here… You ARE changing lives. You ARE inspiring people. You ARE saving lives. I know because I am still here because you are here with me. You are a hero, girl. The next the bitch that is depression tries to tell you otherwise, look back at these comments. Just the IDEA of the red dress reminds me that I deserve some happiness and self-confidence dammit. Maybe one day I will be strong enough to put one on and claim back that piece of me. Thank you, sincerely, for all you do.

  135. Thank you so much for sharing Alice. I’m feeling deeply. Frighteningly and furiously deep. Thank you for that too.

  136. You keep trying to convince your readers of how fucked up you are, but all I can see is the awesome. Thank you for being you!

  137. you give me such hope.

    tonight i’m reading a story on stage – in front of a shit ton of strangers – about my suicidal depression (it’s funny… sort of). the proceeds go to the suicide prevention center.

    the point i’m trying to make:
    because you have been so candid about your mental illness, i’m not afraid to talk about my OCD, depression, stress and bi-polar disorder. i wear it with pride (when the meds are working).

    yeah, so thanks for being brave and teaching us that bravery wins always – regardless of the outcome.


  138. Prevailing means barely-hanging-in-there to completely-thriving…and the whole range in between.

    Love love love your authenticity. So glad you won. Totally deserved.

    To infinity and BEYOND!

    Prevail~Tattoo Girl (sending Goddess blessings, love, and light flowing strongly your way)

  139. You have no idea how much I needed to see this today. I’m so glad I found your blog. I totally get your challenges; my hubby had rheumatoid arthritis and I have mental illness (depression) and I know about good days and bad days. Thank you for being an inspiration.

  140. What you should know by now: you totally rock!
    What you don’t know, but here goes: I’m a priest. An actual female version.
    What I’m going to do: buy some of your stuff, your chicken stuff i think — because I want to support your version of sanity.
    Thank you for red ball gowns and getting one to a little girl trapped by (what? — brain chemical imbalance, sort of) and for being very, very funny.

  141. I love EVERYTHING about this except–“I will fix you”. As far as i’m concerned people with mental illness, medical conditions, disabilities or abilities aren’t broken. They are–people. I don’t think they need to be fixed. They need to be supported, nourished, and encouraged. Just like me. I won’t fix you. I will help you. I will support you. I will guide you. I will be whatever you need me to be so that you can be you as long as I can still be me.

  142. There’s really nothing one can add some 180+ comments in. I can say “what she said”, “what he said” in reference to any number of lovely, fun, eloquent comments already made.

    You have, all unknowingly, found your second calling as the *BRIGHT LIGHT* out there for all of us who struggle, in big ways and small, on any given day or at any given moment. I hope that’s not a trigger for panic or anxiety. I’ll add that you have done such good job already of being that beacon that you have amassed a whole army of supporters who will also say it’s okay when you fall into the dark because we are ready and willing to take up the torch to help guide you back out.

    With much love and admiration…

  143. Gods, you are beautiful. Those are arms built for hugging. You are so full of beauty in so many ways.

  144. *standing applause*

    As a psychologist, my heart is deeply touched as I have been reading the many stories shared in The Traveling Red Dress and #silverribbons. I am SO PROUD of all of you who fight stigma just as hard as you fight depression and other mental illness! Keep going, Bloggess! Even if at times that means just making it to the next day, or the next hour, or the next minute.

  145. It’s so nice to not be all alone. The last couple months have been rough, and going through it trying to bring some sense of normal for my kids is even harder. Thank you for helping me cry, helping me not feel so alone, even if it doesn’t feel better.

  146. I sat here and cried when I read Alice’s story. My son, Titus, is 3 1/2 years old and is being evaluated for Pediatric Bipolar Disorder right now. Our Neurobehaviorist says that he is the youngest child she has ever seen that she was 80% sure of the diagnosis. I love my child, but it hurts me to see him in pain on a daily basis. Thank you so much for bringing this “dirty little secret” into the open. Maybe now, I won’t feel so alone in helping my beautiful son. Thank you.

  147. Re: #180, Wormie — you are spot on with your words; I request a mug, card, or something with “All I can see is the awesome”.
    Thanks Jenny, for taking care of yourself.

  148. In my many stages of OCD and depression, I find myself struggling with self worth…again. Some days, I really think I’ve got my shit together. I look at where I’m at in life in see what I’ve achieved instead of the expectation I failed to live up to. And then reality crashes in when I realize that no matter how together I think I finally am, to many, I will always be broken. Do you know how hard it is to be better when others see broken? I’m betting you do.

    A mother of two wonderfully broken children, I hope that I, too, can fix them. I hope that my love and my efforts to improve their mental health are enough to help ensure that some day they can know, in the deepest part of their being, that even broken, they are whole and worthy of every red dress that crosses their paths. And though I’m not there, yet, I am still holding out hope that I will be!

  149. first of all, i could only watch about 30 seconds of that video. “fix you” makes me ball my eyes out any time i hear it, let alone coupled with a story like that. mascara is now all over my face. wow.

    you are most definitely a health activist, whether you see yourself as one or not. you write about your life, which includes both the RA and mental illness. you speak honestly and openly about both. that’s all being an advocate requires- honesty and openness. sharing your struggles combats stereotypes and reminds people that they are never alone. that is my ultimate goal in blogging and advocating about diabetes. you are never alone. none of us are.

    thank you for that. <3

  150. I love you. (And not in that creepy “I need to schedule a trip to the courthouse and should probably file some sort of report” kind of way either.) You are an inspiration.

  151. I am incredibly touched and truly inspired. No one, especially a child, should EVER have to feel that kind of pain.

  152. THANK YOU!!!! I am a friend of Alice’s family. Not only have I fallen in love with Alice….I have found a forever friend in Marisa and Jim (Alice’s Parents). My son, Colin, has been in Alice’s class for the past two years. To understand Alice through a child is more insightful than “a clinical study”. My son has a secret love affair with Alice and wants nothing more than to protect her (nothing more than any other classmate of Alice’s…they ALL want to protect her!!) Alice is amazing…she really takes my breath away. She makes me a better mom….frienf….wife….etc. I WANT her to be happy all the time and know that her parent and doctor (Dr. Greenberg) will all be involved. I am honored to know Alice and her family. I AM thankful that you have recognized Pediatric Bi-Polar Diagnosis. THANK YOU on behalf of my dear friend Marisa and th family!!!!!!

  153. My life has been a little on the “is this really happening?” side right now. And the red dress stories and pictures have been a life line for me.

    I don’t know that I’ve ever really had a hero. But I want you to know, I do now, and it is YOU.

    Thanks for being a shining beacon when I really needed one. 🙂

  154. “I won, in spite of myself.”

    Not quite true. The fact is that you won because of yourself. And this is not bewildering to me, or many of the other people who read your bloggish scribblings, in the least.


  155. Jenny, I haven’t been reading your blog for very long but I have immersed myself in it since I found it – found you. You have helped me in ways I never would have thought possible, especially from an internet blog. I, too, suffer from depression and self-injurious behaviors at time. Thank you for your courage, your strength, your honesty, your compassion, your humor. Thank you for being you and bringing a little piece of hope to those of us blessed enough to glimpse it through you.

  156. OH … and because I think it is important, I’ve shared Alice’s story on my facebook page. The disorder runs in my family and I think it is important others are aware!

  157. Jenny,
    You are such an inspiration to me and so many others. As a single mom, since I was just 19, I’ve always worried about money. There were so many things over the years that were deemed too expensive, too extravagant, not necessary because it was for me and not one of my girls, even things that were considered too silly. I could never justify spending money on something as simple as a concert ticket for me because next week one of the girls might need something for school, or a new coat or something else that was just as necessary for a growing girl. And inevitably, I was proven right, and something would be needed for the girls, or the water heater needed to be replaced, or the car would break down and need a huge repair. So, over the years it became habit to not do for myself, to save the money for that rainy day that was always just around the corner. There’s been so many things over the years that I wish I’d have done that I’m not sure what my red dress is exactly. Choosing just one thing is entirely too hard to do. But, when I do find that one thing that seems more important than any of the others…I will do it….and wear the hell out of it. Then I will say….”Thank you, Jenny.”

    My daughters are now 24 and 16….surely now I can begin to do stuff for me without being too selfish, right?

  158. You know, I do love the funny, satire posts, but I must admit that I love posts like this too. You really do have to be your own activist and I hope that whoever received your email sends you a reply that increases the warm feeling. I think the world needs more people like you. You lead by example and have done some amazing things just by being you. The world is a better place for having you in it.

    PS I hope your next funny post is a conversation between you and Victor because those posts do crack me up! 😀

  159. My girlfriend and I have been following your blog since Copernicus (a friend of mine shared it on FB, and I was struck by the hilarity). I haven’t commented til now. This post brought me to tears. I wept. Thank you for posting this, thank you for your blog, and thank you for all the work you do.

    All and only the best,


  160. Jenny,
    This is the way you realize you’re much stronger than you think. You’re kind of a mess and feel inadequate and nervous and a bit crazy, but you keep going. You fight. You take the lead on things and make people’s lives better. And you see… Wow, I’m tougher than I think. My disease, my doubts, won’t keep me from doing important things, from living my life.
    And in the midst of that, you inspire tons of people to believe they’re tougher than they thought, too.

  161. Congratulations! And even more congratulations for knowing when to say no. That’s probably a bigger step than any of us realize. I’ve decided to search for my red dress. I don’t need one sent to me, I’d rather send one out, but I don’t usually wear red…maybe that’s my problem. 🙂 So I’m searching for my dress. Is it a flashy purse? Something that says “hey, look at me! Wait you’re looking at me…oh, right I’m ok with that.” Or is it getting back to something I love that brings me joy? Not sure, but thanks to you I’m looking again.

  162. LOVE the comment of the day. Already thinking (and betting on it!) that one of your talented readers is going to turn that short short story into a painting!

  163. I was struck by the plea to listen to these kids when they tell you of their inner pain. My niece was seeing scary things that were not physically present and hearing things no one else could hear at the age of three. Adults around her believed she was just a fearful child with an active imagination. Reality check: at age twelve she was diagnosed with schizophrenia, something that is not usually diagnosed in young folks until well after puberty. That poor little girl was suffering for all those years but because medical “common knowledge” poo-pooed the thought a child so young could suffer from such a thing, no one ever really paid attention.

    Several years later, when I was working with CPS, a I got a referral for a little girl in kindergarten who talked to an invisible friend, heard things no one else did, and told of scary things happening to her when she visited her mother in another state. The school principal related that the child engaged in school yard behaviors and activities that made it difficult for her peers to relate to her because they thought her wierd. I advocated to the principal as well as her father that because CPS could not substantiate any of the alleged physical abuse the child had reported regarding her mother’s household members, it might be prudent to have her screened for schizophrenia if for nothing else, to rule it out. Both of them were taken aback by my suggestion and I’m sure they believed I was a nut job myself for asking them to consider it but all I was thinking about was how my niece suffered because no one believed her.

    Mental health is as serious as untreated heart disease, cancer, or diabetes and folks need to wake up and smell the coffee. Thank you for bringing this video to so many new eyes.

  164. Plaidfox’s Comment of The Millennium took my breath away. Can someone *please* make that the description for the FB page for The Traveling Red Dress?

    Jenny, once more, you’ve shown me the kind of woman I desperately want to be.

  165. The best part is knowing you need to say no when you really want to say yes. Just because it might be a quick fix to how you feel, to know that you aren’t ready for the needed role, it’s a whole step in itself.

  166. Oh that poor baby 🙁 it’s bad enough that adults suffer through life as so many do but Alice is just a little girl, sometimes life is just not fair. I hope you find the MOST beautiful and magical dress in the universe for that beautiful little being and she can learn to manage her condition and find peace.

  167. You are my inspiration. I too experience depression, insomnia.. and more. Some days are really a struggle to keep it together and get out the door to work. Sometimes my family and friends are helpful and other times they are not. I look forward to reading your blog. You make me laugh, you make me cry, you make me feel, and that is a good thing. Thanks for helping me to remember I am not alone, even when it feels like I am.

    Some day I will be brave enough to wear a red dress, and have no shame in doing so.

  168. Good for you for being an advocate for yourself and congrats on winning despite yourself. You have my utmost admiration.

  169. Congrats–and good for you for saying, “No!”

    I was asked to be on the WEGO judging panel (why, I have no idea), but didn’t respond, so I’m probably not on it. I would have voted for you–even if it was just for you to turn it down! ;P

  170. You are my hero. That is all. Except I’m presently searching for my own “red dress”. I just don’t know what it is yet…

  171. I wish I could say that I was surprised by any of this, but I’m not. You’re seriously inspirational, hilarious, and just plain intelligent. Thank you for being who you are Jenny.


    Sorry, I’m allergic to sincerity apparently.

  172. As a 29-year-old who was diagnosed with Severe and Recurring Major Depressive Disorder at age 11, I just want to wrap all of my arms around Alice. I hope she feels absolutely drenched in your love and the love of your readers when she puts on her Red Dress. Because I do. I love her.

  173. I’m glad you feel at peace with yourself – that shows you’ve done the right thing. 🙂
    We all know you’re fantastic without winning an Activist award, anyway. Looking forward to more #travellingreddress awesomeness – I hope it helps out Alice.

  174. You freaking ROCK! Instead of the red dress (although, btw, am waiting for an old friend to visit so we can rock the red dress and pass it on), I have been seeking out metal chickens (well, due to availability, mostly roosters) for my girlfriends in need. We have Jay-Z, Bad Ass Mo Fo, and my current friend for me, Andrew (long story, but he is definitely cock of the walk!) (I know, fowl language, so sorry!). Anyway, you are the muse to my chickens, and I could not appreciate it more. You are blindingly fantastic!

  175. First I want to say you are amazing! Learning to say no when you know you want to say yes but just cant handle it at the moment is absolutely an amazing accomplishment! Alice’s story has definitely struck me teary. I have been battling bipolar pretty much my entire life but was always told I was “just moody” and to “get over it”. Growing up there were so many times I just wanted to end it all and be done with it but I couldnt understand why I felt that way. I wasnt diagnosed until I was 22 years old after battling myself for so long. I am so happy her doctors were able to find out what was going on with Alice, and I pray she and her mother can find the comfort and peace they need to go through this battle together. So many people dont understand what Bipolar is like. Feeling like your trapped in a bubble of Mania is one of the worst feelings I have ever felt, I pray they can find a way to help Alice not to feel that way! No one ESPECIALLY not a child should have to go through the pain of this terrible illness

  176. I have depression, am ‘struggling’ with settling back into my life after three years overseas and I’m also currently Pre-Menstrual. . .this whole thread and story/idea/hope/caring about strangers has me in tears in the living room. Happy, lovely, hopeful tears. . .thank you, thank you, thank you

  177. Sorry for last post (this same sect., 6:56pm). My intent was good, but I was chastising you far too extensively for not taking good enough care of yourself. Who am I to talk? Plus, I’m a fool and a wind bag who’s out of his own head: A head that’s currently injured anyway.
    You’re clearly doing just fine. I must, I will try to remind myself to double and triple check before commenting on anything, ever. You’re doing wonderful things. That is all.

  178. “Because I’m finally learning that I have to be my own activist as well and take care of myself.”
    A difficult lesson put so simply.
    Thank you. Lots.

  179. About 6 years ago I was diagnosed with CFS/ME – I had to quit my job, lose my income, lose the ability to exercise, to take long walks, to run. It took awhile to sink in – how…limited my life had become. My therapist called it a ‘compromised life.’ I sunk into deep depression; CFS was the catalyst from a multiple of nasty events. I stopped showering, stopped caring, stopped brushing my hair. There was no point, I thought, to anything. I just played video games all day. In my pre CFS life I was a published poet. Now, I thought, I’m no longer a writer..I’m nothing.

    I’m writing again – I’m in the planning stage of a novel. I’m working part time (all I can do for now). I can walk – not how I used to, but I’ve learned to manage this condition. I’m kicking depression in the ass instead of the other way round. I come and read your blog and I laugh myself stupid, or nearly cry. If I start doubting myself as a writer I honestly think to myself ‘If the Bloggess can do it, so can you!’ It’s one of my strategies to keep myself going.

    I know you hear it a LOT, but hey – thank you for what you do, reaching people through the internet is a valuable, amazing thing. 🙂


  180. HORRAY!!!! AMAZING, INSPIRING, Victory in the war! Thank you for sharing the comment – I’ve already printed it out and it’s hanging in my office cubicle. (and now I have to leave and get some more kleenex….gee thanks)

  181. Okay, I realize you are a woman and the whole dress of hope thing. Sure. Get that. But what about Red Speedos of Confidence for men? We need hope too. Maybe include a package of socks for some ‘padding’ if you know what I mean. Just throwing this out there.

    Oh, and congrats on being an award winng lunatic 😛

  182. I wonder if anyone is sending Alice’s mom a dress too, so they can share that hope and joy in spite of the struggles?

  183. I’m a high school teacher of students with emotional disabilities. I love that you asserted for your needs — sometimes a no is a yes, when it comes to mental heath. That is a tough concept for many to understand. Totally have me teared up right now.

  184. Hi there!
    Just “found” you the other day and loved your writing. Congrats on the award…maybe it’s what the gods wanted. I’m so glad to see your share publicly about your mental health. I suffer thru bi-polar II (mostly depression), anxiety and some occasional alcohol abuse for relief. I believe the more people share mental health issues the less stigma.

    Atta Girl!!!

  185. You have made a wonderful selection in Alice and her family. Alice is a sweet little girl in a loving home where two parents dedicate their lives to sharing their love with all their children (and dog), and seeing to it that each of them gets that love and attention they need…not always an easy task. In addition, her mom volunteers her time on a local tv show, Kids First, so that others may benefit from the insight of Dr. Rosalie Greenberg, who works tirelessly to help children like Alice and my son. Thanks for doing something so incredibly nice for someone who truly deserves a long lasting smile!

  186. I am in the middle of learning that same lesson! Trying to figure out how to say no to an event I was unceremoniously roped into.

    …and I’ve been trying to figure out what my “red dress” is, ever since reading about the project.

  187. Thanks everyone for the kind words about my comment; I hope those were mostly tears of happiness. And to the Bloggess for being my inspiration.

  188. I was listening to a very wise man recently who talked about how “love thy neighbour as thyself” is also about loving *yourself* as much as you love others. As someone who would never dream of speaking to others as I sometimes speak to myself, it was a bit of a lightbulb moment. Good on you for being kind to yourself.

    Congratulations on your award.

  189. I love this project! And I am so glad that you are sending a dress to that wonderful little girl! Jenny, you are just so inspiring and real and awesome. Thank YOU for all that you do.

  190. Saying No to something new – one more commitment that would be too much – is actually saying Yes to all your previous commitments.

    It’s when we say Yes too much, that erodes our Word. We can no longer honor our previous Yes, and let someone down, including ourselves.

  191. This was just what I needed to read this morning. A bright spot for me in an otherwise pretty horrible nightmare. Thanks Jenny.

    Now back to a crappy reality.

  192. Darn it! I’m crying now. My heart goes out to Alice and to all of the other traveling red dress recipients. May they find their own peaces in gathered crimson taffeta. And may that peace be tangible and warm, funny and lithe, and may it endure long after they’ve slipped out of the gown. And then may that tranquil warmth find another whose demons have gotten too big. And then another. And another. Thank you, Bloggess.

  193. The video of Alice made me cry … because she’s just like my stepdaughter. Bravo to doing what you’re doing, Jenny. My world has become a better and brighter place since you’ve taken up a corner of it.

  194. My 7 year old son has been suffering with pediatric bipolar disorder for years now – and it’s heartbreaking to see your sweet, innocent child in such pain. Nothing hurts a mother more than to see your child hurting and not be able to fix it. People see him and think he’s just defiant, spoiled, stubborn, immature — they don’t see that his behavior is just an outward manifestation of what’s going on in his head. I see him as a loving, creative child – who is very much aware that his brain works differently than others. Thank you so much for sharing Alice’s story – I hope it helps people see that depression impacts everyone, regardless of age.

    I’m off to the store tonight to get my son a new red shirt… and maybe a red dress for mommy, too…

  195. I think someone should send a matching red collar for Alice’s companion dog… then they could go out in their matching outfits.

  196. You say, “I won, in spite of myself. Literally, and figuratively. How perfectly bewildering.”

    I say, “Just perfect!”

  197. I am totally stealing your charming thanks but no thanks answer. I will let my future nothankees that I got it from you. Maybe. Probably not, actually. That was a lie. BUT I will know. Good work.

  198. You are such an inspiration. You inspire without meaning to. You inspire by opening yourself up to complete strangers. You are so brave and so honest you bring hope to so many who want to say the same things you do but are unable to. Thank you for being you, warts and all and for letting us get to know you.

  199. I was a little girl with severe anxiety. Bad enough that I’ve come ::thisclose:: to a bipolar disorder diagnosis, and that’s after reaching adulthood. My big sister was the only one who could bring me peace. Going to visit her was my red dress–as were the Doc Martens she bought for me so that I could have something cool to wear.

    It was nothing as severe as what Alice’s mom describes. And Alice has a dress coming to her. If anyone knows of another child who needs to get a package full of hope in the mail, please tell me. I have begun a campaign to sew a new ball gown for women, but would feel overjoyed if I could transform the whole thing into a campaign for girls’ dresses. Please, if I can do this for any little girl anywhere, make a dress just for her, just the way she wants it, in just the color she loves best, tell me. You can contact me through my website or at amtonyan [at] gmail [dot] com.

  200. I just read your comment of the day and I started to cry. It was beautiful and well written. I just wanted to tell you guys that.

  201. I am so proud of you for being your own activist. It take a TON of strength to say no and not take on too many things. You should be proud of yourself too. You are making a wonderful impact on peoples lives just by being you. And that, my dear, is not something that everyone can say.

  202. Yes! You said, “No!” Awesome, truly. It is such a hard thing when you have a daily struggle to take care of basic needs, to say, “no.” I am learning this, too. I felt such lightness and joy when I read how you felt after. Thank you for sharing that with me.

    I hope that the red dress brings Alice much joy!

    This is really hard to say, because I fear people will respond angrily to me, but these are my heartfelt feelings:

    I felt sad that the video referred to “fixing” her. I’m on the verge of tears. I hope for the day when people with disabilities, including children, including people who suffer (as I do, as you do), will not hear the message that we need to be “fixed.” Offered assistance, accommodation, empowerment, access, yes. Respected. Understood that though we suffer, we still value our lives and have things to offer.

    I have been a service dog partner for over a decade, and I am so glad her dog gives her unconditional love and support. (Dogs release the happy hormones and chemicals in our bodies!) The great thing about dogs is that they have no idea and don’t care what your diagnoses are. They are not “judgey.” 😉 I hope, also, that Alice is aware that she is just who she needs to be, because it’s hard enough to be a kid, and hard enough to be a kid in deep psychological pain. That even though she has bipolar, she is still normal.

  203. I am in love the with the red dress movement (can I call it that?). It is beautiful and I love the pictures of you in them. I am having a red dress week. Reading about it makes me feel a little better. 🙂

  204. I keep thinking of this project of yours, and when I do, I visualize all of these big poufy red dresses, floating through the air. It’s surreal, but really cool.

  205. I hope this doesn’t raise your anxiety level too much, but I just read through the list of nominees and realized that your popularity level is so high that you’re recognized by just one name now. You’ve joined the ranks of Beyonce and Cher and Kermit. Congrats.

  206. my 8 year old nephew was diagnosed with pediatric bipolar disorder and is fighting the same fight as Alice. A major milestone in his life was just finding a doctor that would acknowledge that pediatric bipolar disorder even existed. Things have been much easier for my sister’s whole family simply by giving his problem a name though the struggle still goes on. I can’t even imagine the challenges they will have in their lives. Thanks for making one little girls fight easier.

  207. I totally teared up over my lunch while reading this post at work…..maybe it was the song, or a combo of the mother’s words over the song…..or the dog….or maybe it’s my period….but Alice is amazing and so are you and so is the quote at the end of the story – big props to yesterday’s post! It really got to me 🙂 keep doing good a little bit everyday… does not go unnoticed

  208. Alice is beautiful – she deserves several gowns in all the colors of the rainbow, and fairy wings!

  209. Watching the video of Alice had me with tears streaming down my face. I suffered childhood depression from the age of 7 (and as an adult), but at least at that age I could articulate the sadness. At Alice’s age, how utterly confusing and bewildering this must be for her, not knowing why the pain is there or how to articulate it. I wish more people knew that this affects children too.

  210. I just visited the traveling red dress FB page you linked to above – I am weeping at all the kindness and generosity and sweetness of the whole damn thing. Awesome.

  211. I hope that Alice knows what an amazing, beautiful, worthy and loved child she is. I can relate to her expereinces from my recollections of my childhood as a now almost 40 year old woman. Sadly 35 years ago, there wasnt such acceptance, understanding and compassion…. I spent most of my childhood lost, angry and isolated from the world and never knew why. 20 years of therapy, I tried every medicine out there (none worked), and an infinite amount of self acceptance (best medicine out there) and am finally in a place where I am finding my comfort and joy…. I wish I could wrap my arms around her and tell her “It gets better” because it really does….

  212. Wow, you seriously are one amazing lady! You made me sob with Alice’s Mom’s video! I hope Alice loves her red dress & I hope her mom succeeds at “fix”ing her.

    Well done on the saying “Thanks, but no, I can’t!” I’ve only recently found your blog (oddly through googling Wil Wheaton, lol), so I don’t really know your back history, but I do know that chronic pain is never nice (until Dec my Dr’s believed I had Rheumatoid Arthritis, which I was diagnosed with at 8. Turns out I have Fibromyalgia, so I know all about the pain!). Saying No is never easy – especially when you are a people please, which I would hazzard to guess you are, so kudos to you for looking after yourself first!

  213. And cue the tears. Watched the lovely video of beautiful Alice and haven’t stopped dabbing my eyes yet.

  214. I love what you’re doing, and inspiring others to do. Bravo!

    I personally believe depression is WAY over diagnosed, and mind altering pharmaceutical drugs way over prescribed. While I am saddened by the need to label and medicate children, especially at such a young and tender age … the pain in Alice’s eyes was heartbreaking. I hope the red dress brings a little bit of light into them.

  215. I go to the Facebook page every day and read through the posts – and it makes me all weepy in a wonderful way. I adore that woman’s “improvised” photos with the red cloth – she looks like Snow White.

  216. Like many who have responded, I’m challenged with living the life bipolar, and I agree wholeheartedly that there’s no shame in having a (so-called) mental illness. My thanks to Pauline Campos/@aspiringmama for bringing me here. You have created a video of incomparable beauty and set it to the perfect song (a personal favorite). Thank you so much for reaching out, and in so doing, bringing much needed light and air to the subject of Bipolar Spectrum Disorder. My congratulations on being a Health Activist winner. You deserve it very much indeed.

    With lots of hugs,

  217. that video made me cry. i have bipolar disorder. i think i’ve probably had it my whole life but it’s gotten progressively worse as i get older. i can’t imagine trying to explain it to a child. i just can’t.

  218. That video is so moving! Thank you for sharing it! Your webiste has inspired me to get my Master’s in Public Administration with a focus in Nonprofit work, so I can work and help precious people like Alice and yourself! Thank you for everything you do!

  219. I wept as I watched the video of Alice. My daughter suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder. She is 27 now and was always just considered a “bad” kid in school. I even had a friend who overheard teachers talking about how “crazy” she was at age 12. Thanks for all you do and Kudos to you for saying No when you meant it.

  220. I had some tears when I watched the video of Alice as well. I hope there’s a red dress (metaphorical or literal) for Alice’s companion dog as well..

    Congratuations Jenny on the health activist award!

  221. I am still trying to stop crying after watching Alice’s video. Because I’m the one who’s bipolar, and it’s my kiddo (who looks startlingly like Alice) who often tries to comfort me. She deserves a closet full of red dresses (which may actually end up being a parakeet). Thank you for sharing all of this and so much of yourself. Congratulations on learning to say no. And if Alice’s mommy is reading this: thank you.

  222. Oh my, what a beautiful story about Alice. I am so thrilled that you are sending her a red dress. I make girl’s hair accessories, and would love to make a red one for Alice to match her dress. If this is something I can do, please let me know how.

  223. I just cried when I watched the Alice video. What can I say – you have such a generous and loving soul. To see and feel those who hurt so much and find a way to brighten the days – blessings and peace on you, Jennie.

  224. Alice. You have posted a video of a child who suffers every day. Fuck the red dress. YOU posted a video of a child who is in pain and it WILL make a difference. Thank you. From every mother who has cried because she doesn’t know how to help this precious child she bore and loves and just can’t reach. Thank you. I can’t really express what I feel, but I think you know. You are so much more than The Bloggess. Please know that about yourself.

  225. Thank you for sharing Alice’s story with us. I hope we get to see pictures of her in her lovely dress.

    Pediatric bipolar disorder is an asshole and is still not fully understood. If you’ve ever met a child who has this diagnosis, you know the damage it can do and how difficult their lives can be.

  226. “I just have to take care of myself a bit more and that means saying no when I want to say yes.” You should be very proud. I always end up saying yes out of guilt and doing a shitty job, embarrassing myself, or ending up in a closet for two weeks wearing my husband’s sweatpants and undershirt.


  227. I watched Alice with the sound off– so I guess I missed the music. Not all the words.

    I watched because I have bipolar disorder myself. I kept the sound off, because my diagnosis is still pretty new, and I’m still figuring out what it means about me, and I’m sitting here with my baby and I didn’t want to cry.

    I did, a bit, anyway.

    I didn’t have BP as a child. Depression and social anxiety, but not that. I can’t even… well, no, I can imagine, and it’s awful.

    Thank you for helping her. And thank you for the work you’re doing, to take the stigma away from mental illness. Sometimes the stigma hurts worse than the disease itself.

  228. This is, by far, the best project to which I am about to devote myself. Thank you, Jenny, for the link… I am gathering studio time, a dress (or dresses), and I’m totally committed to donating the joy, laughs, and comfort that every woman deserves. You rock. Good times.

  229. I just had to post this up because a little red flag went up in my head when I watched the video about Alice and her diagnosis.
    There is a very rare type of brain lesion, or hamartoma, that causes very similar conditions to that which Alice seems to be exhibiting. It’s actually a birth defect on the hypothalamus of the brain. The hypothalamus controls many functions of the brain but one major one is emotional responses. Laughter, fear, rage and even later in life, it controls and effects our sexuality. Because of this, Hypothalamic Hamartoma (HH) often causes emotional outbursts very similar to what Alice has.
    I’m not saying that that’s what it is, but it might be worth a check. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t at least offer the information on this topic. The symptoms for the condition are often misdiagnosed as various other mental health disorders or even ADHD, making diagnosis for the real problem go on far too long often causing disabilities and erupting in seizures later in life.

    Alice very well may have bi-polar disorder. That is treatable and she can live a long happy life. But if it is something else like HH, it will only continuously become worse as she gets older until it is treated. Because of how rare the condition is, there are only about 4 places in the world that treat it effectively.

    I don’t know any better place to contact you about this and I hope that you find the message just so that the information is shared. Please let me know if there is any further information I can provide on the subject. Over the last 8 years I’ve had to become very fluent in this condition and its treatment…because I have HH as well.

    Thanks for your time Bloggess and for your amazing dedication to helping others.

    The brain

  230. a no that’s a yes is awesome. and your activism is already so powerful and far-reaching … so many of us have blogs and twitters and spread the words that you share. right now, what you’re doing is enough … it’s *more* than enough … you’re literally giving us pieces of you to share to raise awareness. that’s huge, jenny.

    keep on going, friend.

  231. The absolute best part of the Traveling Red Dress is that women are being positive and encouraging to other women. Let’s admit it – we’re not all a size 0, anorexic, bony super model. Many of the women posting pictures are normal sized women – women with scars, and curves, and lovely laugh lines. No one is airbrushed – everyone is beautiful. That was the hardest part to me about becoming a mom – other moms can be downright mean about choices you make for your kids. But that’s the opposite with the red dress. And such a joy to see.

    I had a red dress once. It was my bridesmaid dress for my brother’s wedding (right after Christmas). I wore it a couple of times after that to company parties – and did feel wonderful. I passed it along years ago to Project Princess here in Austin – for helping teen girls get prom dresses so they could have their own magical night. So in my own way, I participated in the Traveling Red Dress before it even started. 😉 You are a beautifully awesome woman, Jenny!

  232. I needed to read this today. It has been a week of feeling spread thin, trying to support people in a variety of ways and hurting myself in the meantime.

    Thank you for this reminder.

  233. I’ve never commented here before but I just wanted to say thank you for this post, for the red dresses, for your humor, and for your generosity. And to Alice’s mother – you rock! What a wonderful tribute to a beautiful little girl.

  234. I’ve read your blog for many months now and never felt compelled to comment until today. I’ve read your blog and laughed until I cried, now today as tears stream down my face – you have to know the good you are doing: the book, the video above, the dresses, your transparency about mental illness. We as women have to take care of one another. As a one who has a master’s in counseling, we have to be the catalyst for changing the stigma surrounding mental illness of any new treatments, drugs, research especially for Alice are going to be found. To anyone who has feelings of self-doubt, or anxiety, or fear, or depression – you are not alone. Do not be afraid to find a support system. We will be there to take care of you.

  235. I need you to know that I bawled my eyes out during that whole video. I grew up with a depressant mother. She was both manic and bipolar. I have just now, JUST NOW, realized that my whole life, I’ve blamed her for being broken. For making all of us miserable. For disappearing for days and sometimes taking me with her. I struggle with my moods and I always put on a happy face, not wanting to be my mother. We don’t talk. Like, ever. I don’t know if our relationship can be fixed, but maybe it’s time that I answer the phone when it rings with their number. We’ll see where it goes from there.

  236. Thank you so much for posting the video of Alice and talking about your illness. My daughter Emma has suffered from BiPolar I since she was ten and in her college applications this year that was the subject of her essays. She’s tried to be an outspoken advocate for teens and mental illness. I appreciate your willingness not only to talk about it but to find the humor. Emma always says, “keep that humor, it’s a necessity.” We’ve found humor to be a healing source along with her horse (made a rhyme. I’m on a roll) Thanks, for speaking for those who can’t find their voice just yet.

  237. You inspire! The video made me sob and your blog has encouraged me to write about my own depression. I am now in search of my own “red dress” which might or might not be a red dress.

    Blogess, you are a goddess in your red dress!


  238. Wow. That was actually kinda tough to watch.

    When I was a very young kid, I once heaved a heavy sigh and said, “I’m so depressed” in my mother’s presence. Instead of hearing that and taking appropriate action, as I think a parent should, she immediately said, “No you’re not and don’t ever say that again!”

    I’m 36 years old and regularly struggle with anger and resentment over the idea that I could’ve been a different, exponentially happier person now, if she had sought help for me then. Instead it just festered and worsened until my late 20s when I finally had the courage and the strength to seek treatment on my own.

    Somehow, when I watched that video and and read “pediatric bipolar disorder” and “has been severely depressed since she was 3” I admit that seemed ludicrous to me for a minute, but then I thought, “At what age can you believe it?” And then I told my brain to shut up and I listened to that song that always makes me want to cry a little, and looked at those absolutely heart-breaking pictures of that little girl…

    Just… tough…

  239. This is touching and beautiful. Thank you for being so brave and sharing so much with others! I hope it’s ok…I sent out my own red dress to a friend who struggled and is winning her battle with your amazing story attached and instructions to pass it on.

  240. You are pretty fucking amazing! You have so many projects going on and yet you manage to take care of your family and write this FABULOUS blog! I’m impressed. Sometimes just showering is my goal for the day!

  241. Thank you Jenny, again. Thank you for giving me exactly what I needed today. Thank you for letting me convince myself that I will take that next step, the one I’ve been wanting to take, planning to take, putting off. Thank you for the reminder to say yes to myself, and take out my red dress, and scream at the sky. Congratulations on your award 🙂

  242. Thank you so much for this post. I have loved your blog forever, one of those silent readers until now. My daughter was diagnosed with Juvenile Bipolar Disorder at age 8 (but has struggled with it her entire life). She is 11 now, and sometimes minute to minute is a struggle for her with the level of anxiety, self-doubt, self-loathing she feels, which often translates and manifests itself in rage-filled screaming fits, hysterical sobbing, just general feelings of being bad and wrong (when she is the complete opposite of anything bad or wrong). Everything she does and everyone she meets experiences her as a bright, sweet, wonderful soul, but it is a terrible monster of a disease that will not let her truly feel all that she is. It breaks my heart for her, but we will not give up. I struggled to consider the word “Fix” for a few minutes, but actually, based on what she has said, she very much feels there is something inside her that is messed up, that needs fixing. She feels so alone in the world, so misunderstood. I intend to share all of this with her, because for her, even knowing she is not alone in this great big world often helps her. My heart goes out to the sweet little girl in the video. Just like that mother, I will be there every step of the way for my daughter, but it doesn’t mean it’s not painful and heartbreaking to see her struggle so. Thank you again, for this, for all that you ARE doing, for bringing attention for this, and for your kick-ass sense of humor and writing. 🙂

  243. Sorry. I suck. Found how to get to the first post.

    You’re awesome!

  244. I am a total shit head. When I was nominated for this award I was all “hell yes!” and forgot to pay attention to who I was nominated with…also because I am as stated before, a total shit head. Now…as my book club reads your book, I finally put two and two together and uh…no wonder I didn’t win.

    You’re a rad blogger. I should have found you earlier…but again…the whole shit head thing.

  245. I was blessed to receive your book from a parent of one of my students. I have the privilege to work at the Newmark school – a school where children who have never felt accepted- feel accepted. I love my job , and if given the chance, with the opportunity of making a lot more money, I would chose to work at the Newmark School! My students don’t learn from me, I learn from them- I learn To be a better parent, daughter and friend- because I learn to accept! I read your book and laughed, I saw your video of Alice, and cried! I’m sharing your book with friends- who feel alone!!! They will be accepted thanks to you and the Alice’s!

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